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Bill Takes Aim At Drug Overdose Deaths In California

As the death toll from drug overdoses continues to rise, a bill in the California Assembly would require the state to take steps to address the problem.

— California doesn't have a state plan to curb the epidemic of prescription drug overdose deaths. A bill just introduced in the state legislature would change that.

The measure, submitted by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), asks lawmakers to convene a statewide task force on drug overdoses and develop recommendations to address the problem.

The bill also creates a $500,000 grant program to encourage communities to set up overdose prevention efforts.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a major supporter of the measure. There is no known opposition.

Peter Davidsonof the division of global health at UC San Diego's medical school said prescription drug overdoses are a major threat.

"Let me put it this way: it's now the single-largest cause of accidental death in the United States. More people die from this than motor vehicle accidents," Davidson explained.

In 2010, more than 4,000 Californians died from a drug overdose, including 228 San Diegans. Prescription painkillers were the biggest culprit.

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